Yesterday Mayor de Blasio pledged to overhaul the city’s Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, announcing a number of reforms to jumpstart the process. You can see the entire PDF report here or read more details from the Mayor’s office here. The reforms include ways to improve the experience of homeowners navigating the pre-construction process, expanding eligibility for acquisition and reimbursement, establishing better coordination among city, state, and federal partners, and working closely with local communities in the rebuilding efforts.
According to the Times, the Mayor hopes that the city will have started construction on 500 new homes and mailed out 500 reimbursement checks for previously performed repairs by the end of the summer. Only 30 residents received their payments so far. As Brad Gair — who worked on rebuilding efforts during Bloomberg’s term — told the Times, “Anything that helps expedite the assistance to the homeowners who are still in need, I think is very positive. The challenge really becomes how you implement and process that.”
NY1 got the check out proposals for Rebuild by Design, a competition responding to Hurricane Sandy by asking design professionals to envision solutions that increase resilience across the Sandy-affected region. Proposals span from Lower Manhattan to Hunt’s Point in the Bronx to Red Hook, Brooklyn. In Queens, designers proposed an elevated subway platform and commercial strip in Rockaway Park, rendered above.
The winners of the competition will be picked later this month. The winning design solutions may be able to be implemented with disaster recovery grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as other sources of public and private- sector funding.
The Rockawayist took a trip to Fort Tilden, where beach access and pathways have been closed off since Hurricane Sandy. There’s some good news, though: A cleanup is under way. Here’s the latest report from the Rockawayist:
The trails of Battery Harris East and Battery Harris West have been completely cleared of debris. And although those old Nike missile installations have been recently repainted, Battery Harris East has been claimed anew by graffiti tags. The stairs leading to the viewing platform atop Battery Harris East are still fully functional, offering stunning views of the ocean, Jamaica Bay and the Manhattan skyline. The park is still dotted with a number of abandoned buildings, which seem largely undamaged by the storm. And they continue to be a unique canvas for graffiti.
The concrete path along Shore Road, badly torn up by the storm, still remains a mess. Check out this awesome Flickr account of the whole area. The city’s goal is to reopen the park for the summer of this year.
Over the holiday weekend, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a major initiative for post Sandy improvements in Howard Beach. New York Daily News says that feds approved a $50,000,000 project (funded by federal recovery funds) to “develop sand dunes, salt marshes and other vegetation along a section of the Queens coastline in a bid to keep floodwaters from reaching businesses and homes.” These improvements are slated for a 150-acre tract along Spring Creek and Jamaica Bay. Engineering studies and design work will start up in 2014, and construction is only expected to take a year. When Sandy hit more than one year ago, a total of 3,000 homes in the Howard Beach area suffered serious damage.
This is our final installment of a three part series on Arverne View, a housing complex in the Far Rockaways. When Hurricane Sandy hit, L+M Development Partners was in contract to purchase the complex. They closed when the development, then called Ocean Village, had no power whatsoever. In the year since, the company undertook a massive renovation project that addressed the building problems before Sandy, as well as the many concerns of building resiliency after Sandy hit. In Part One, we detailed the extent of the renovation. In Part Two, we toured just about every corner of the complex, which is still under construction. For Part Three, we talk with three residents who live here now. Belinda Cook, a Rockaways resident for years, came to Arverne View after being displaced from her home by Sandy. That’s the same story for Mirian Herrera, who spent six months in a hotel after being displaced by the storm. Finally, we talked to Lola Vaughn, who has lived in the same apartment at the complex since 1987. Read their stories, after the jump.
Andrew Cuomo announced that LaGuardia Airport will receive about $37,000,000 for five different projects that protect against flooding, CBS reports. Hurricane Sandy flooded the airport with 100 million gallons of seawater, closing it for three days and canceling a total of 3,300 flights. The money will go toward projects like installing flood barrier berms, concrete floodwalls and gravity drains, replacing generators and rehabbing the airport’s power distribution grid. The majority of funding — about $28,000,000 — will come from a disaster mitigation and recovery award from the federal government.
Today the Food Bank for New York is holding the Far Rockaway NY Rising Conference, a neighborhood event that features a wide range of presentations focused on “remembering, recognizing and rising” one year after Hurricane Sandy. Until 4pm at the Community Church of the Nazarene (1414 Central Avenue) local pols, city representatives, Red Cross reps and Food Bank for New York reps will be on hand to discuss the critical role of food preparedness during events like Sandy. Food Bank for New York will also unveil two mobile disaster response centers which it purchased with support from the American Red Cross. The centers will be used to conduct benefits outreach, including SNAP screenings and free tax preparation, in the hardest-hit areas. The units also have built-in satellites and telecommunications capability. The Food Bank will send the mobile units on the road this month.
Then, this evening at 6:30pm, Councilman Donovan Richards is hosting the “Sandy: One Year Later” panel and community discussion at the Queens Library at Far Rockaway. City and community representatives will give brief updates on the work that they have been doing around the Rockaways. That will be followed by a community discussion on the recovery effort. All the event details are here. Also this evening at 7:30pm, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn will hold a commemoration and healing Mass at St. Mary Star of the Sea (1920 New Haven Avenue), also in the Far Rockaways. Details on that here.
Today’s news is filled with stories paying tribute to Hurricane Sandy victims one year after the storm, with more than a few of them chronicling the persisting struggles of rebuilding for homeowners. This DNAinfo piece looks at contractor fraud in the Rockaways. According to the story, contractor fraud runs rampant in areas affected by the storm, with licensed contractors giving inflated estimates, taking money and disappearing, or unlicensed contractors simply taking the money and running. According to a lawyer with the New York Legal Assistance Group, “What happens often, instead of best practices where you get three estimates, people were just starting to do emergency repairs and just assuming whatever insurance was paid out, the contractor would take.” Oftentimes that wasn’t the case, with contractors sometimes charging twice as much than what insurance will pay — in one case, a contractor charged a woman thousands of dollars for materials donated from a relief organization. Because of these problems, a high number of storm victims continue to live in uninhabitable or partially repaired homes. In the year after Sandy, the Department of Consumer Affairs received a total of 600 complaints about contractors.
An article at Queens Courier talks about the insurance claims that have also plagued homeowners of damaged properties. Since the storm the number of complaints to the Department of Financial Services spiked, with residents concerned they are not receiving enough insurance money for repairs. The DFS is scheduling site visits with an adjuster from an insurance company to give sites with insurance issues a second look.
Queens Courier reports that Howard Beach residents held their first meeting this week regarding $18,000,000 given to the neighborhood through the state’s NY Rising Community Reconstruction program. The program provides funds to more than 100 communities severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. The community ultimately decides where the funds will go. At the meeting, Howard Beach residents expressed a desire for investing in solar panels, having gasoline on hand for generators, building a central storm hub and strengthening churches and high ground shelters. The community will hold three more meetings before submitting a final plan; the next public meeting is scheduled for November 18th at P.S. 207.
DNAinfo reports tworeopenings in the Rockaways, one year after Hurricane Sandy. Madelaine Chocolate Factory, a family-run company in a 200,000-square-foot headquarters one block from Jamaica Bay, celebrated its reopening this Tuesday. Sandy brought four feet of water into the building — every piece of equipment sustained damage and the company lost $8,000,000 in inventory. According to DNAinfo, the business hiatus and building repairs cost the company approximately $50,000,000 in business. Madelaine resumed limited production over the summer and the owners are hoping to resume full operation as soon as possible. Over in Rockaway Park, Curran’s Superior Meats celebrated its reopening at a new location on Beach 116th Street. The reopening was part of a celebration of businesses fixed up through a pilot program sponsored by Citi and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. The family-owned butcher was located in Belle Harbor for 50 years before Hurricane Sandy hit. It officially moved to its new location on Beach 116th Street in June.